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JR Lopez Gonzales 10:13 AM 2

♪ Oppa Gangnam style! ♫
After the F4 Invasion in the mid-2000s, the Korean pop music took over the Philippines in an astonishing fashion. From the Koreanovelas to the Korean Pop, the Philippines, is apparently infected with the K-Pop virus.

The Korean popular music or K-Pop is a musical genre consisting of dance, electronic, electro-pop, hip hop, and R&B music [1] originating in South Korea (obviously heavily influenced by Uncle Sam) which has currently been taking the global music charts by st
orm. It has undoubtedly caught the interest of the growing new generation of this country of Videoke-singers. That kind of trend where everyone would warble the English chorus and mumble on those in difficult-to-pronounce Korean lyrics.

The "Oh baby, baby, baby" days are over.
According to 2009 figures, about 8.8 million South Korean albums were sold worldwide and its retail value was $93 million dollars in 2009 [2]. This leads to the burning question: What’s the secret to the K-Pop’s success?

Firstly, I believe it’s on its Western packaging. Obviously, Korean traditions and culture are not reflected in most of the K-Pop music as their Just take a look on a screenshot of this music video of SNSD’s hitsong, “Oh!” and you’ll know what I mean.

SNSD: American football cheerleaders.
Unlike the ‘cutey’ and obviously ‘childish’ image and singing style of their neighbor Japan, K-Pop has a more mature image which played a big role in making their albums sell like pancakes. Another staple for K-Pop is when scantily-clad girls with ‘weird’ hairdos to gyrate and sing to heavy danceable tunes. (Did I mention that some K-Pop males are androgynous?).

The dance moves, are apparently easy-to-follow, too. Another K-Pop trademark is when singers switch their positions while singing and dancing by making synchronized moves in order for every member of a band to be at the middle of the dance formation. These attributes, not to mention the song lyrics which only contain an English phrase or two, make K-Pop one of the most lucrative business in the global music industry.

In 2009, Wonder Girls, one of Asia’s most successful music artists who sold millions of singles including the international #1 songs “Tell Me”, “So Hot” and “Nobody”, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The Wonder Girls are also notable for touring with the Jonas Brothers as well as making guest appearances on various American TV Shows. Add to that their collaboration with Akon in the track, “Like Money”. Other girlbands such as Bing Bang and Girls’ Generation are enjoying huge global, language barrier-breaking success. Prior to them, Rain, known to many Filipinos because of the Clear shampoo commercial, is also a world-famous Korean popstar.

Up to this moment, K-Pop is steadily gaining influence in foreign markets outside of Asia, including North America that last year, Billboard officially launched the Korea K-Pop Hot 100.  Thanks to the free marketing the Internet has done for them via Facebook and YouTube.

In the light of the Korean success in the Philippine music market and due to our predilection to imitate launched our own P-Pop, some music execs had ‘Korean-looking’ Filipinos who formed boybands and girlbands. A cheap shot, I have to say. That which testifies to our lack of creativity and originality.

I take pride in saying that "The Filipinos are one, if not the best, of all the singers in the world".
Why not fish for better talents through apprenticeship? “Apprenticeship” (not the jargon we have from our Labor Code), is the universal strategy for nurturing girl groups, boy bands, and solo artists in the K-Pop industry. To guarantee the high probability of success of new talent, talent agencies fully subsidize and oversee the professional lives and careers of trainees, often spending in excess of $400,000 to train and launch a new artist.
Yes. We need to fish for better Filipino talents.
Through the practice of apprenticeship, which often lasts two years or more, trainees hone their voices, learn professional choreography, sculpt and shape their bodies through exercise, and study multiple languages all the while attending school. This is the kind of training Sandara Park (now called as “Dara” of 2NE1) underwent. In retrospect, Sandara Park, a popular actress in the Philippines after winning in ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Quest artist search competition does not know how to dance or even sing like she does now in the Korean ‘apprenticeship’.

With proper packaging and apprenticeship, Korean performers break the language barrier and continues to leave marks on the global music scene. Now, this made me wonder whether the Philippines could also manage to duplicate K-Pop world success. Or can we do it without looking and sounding ‘too Westernized’? I don’t know when would that happen, meanwhile, I just have to “keep calm and Gangnam Style.

[2] RIAJ: Yearbook 2011, IFPI 2009 Report: 33. Global Sales of Recorded Music by Country in 2009 (Page 23)". Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 2011-04-25.

[1] Holden, Todd Joseph Miles; Scrase, Timothy J. (2006). Medi@sia: global media/tion in and out of context. Taylor & Francis. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-415-37155-1. Retrieved 5 December 2011. "Since the 1990s, the term “K-Pop” has become popularized to refer to Korean popular music, being widely used throughout East and Southeast Asia”. Accessed on 2 September 2012.

Photo Credits:

"Singing Videoke Guy" and "Keep Calm and Gangnam Style"taken from Facebook.
"F4 Look-a-likes" taken from

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2 comments K-Pop in the Philippines

  1. Gangnam Style! Matagal ng uso yan sa Pinas. hehe

  2. @Techniko: Oo nga eh. Kahit na 'di naiintindihan. Salamat sa pagbisita! :)


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